Top 5 Natural Areas to View Fall Foliage in NYC
It’s fall in New York City! The season of crisp air, pumpkins on every stoop, farmer’s market apple cider, street vendor roasted chestnuts…and beautiful fall foliage across the five boroughs! In our parks and natural areas you likely have started to see red, yellow, and orange leaves from some of our native trees like oak, maple, dogwood, and elm. Are you on the hunt for more glimpses of fall?
We’ve compiled a list of the top 5 natural areas for viewing fall foliage in NYC. We asked Natural Areas Conservancy’s Trail Managers, Josh Otero and Gabriel Cummings, as well as Senior Ecologist Helen Forgione for their recommendations, specific lookout spots, and what’s noteworthy in these natural areas. Read on below for the inside scoop on NYC autumn foliage and where you can find it in each borough.
Pelham Bay Park, Bronx
Best Lookout Spot: Hunter Island
Noteworthy: The shoreline trail on Hunter Island in Pelham Bay Park is the place to be for beautiful views of the coast! The way the autumn leaves frame the trail along the rocky shoreline is emblematic of a classic North Eastern coastline.
Marine Park, Brooklyn
Best Lookout Spot: On the Gerritsen Avenue side of the park, follow the shoreline portion of the Red Trail or cut through the park on the Blue Trail to White Island Lookout.
Noteworthy: This maritime forest offers unique fall colors with its vibrant sumac, phrag, bayberry, and patches of goldenrod and milkweed. It’s worth making it to the bay to spot White Island, which is currently being managed as a migratory bird habitat and is a terrific place to spot fall migratory birds!
Inwood Hill Park, Manhattan
Noteworthy: The variation in Inwood’s topography makes this park a true adventure to hike in. The trees are some of the tallest in the city, and this time of year will encompass you in a golden canopy! The spicebush is also stunning when it changes color creating a brilliant layer of bright yellow under tulip trees and oaks. (Pro-tip for birders — Inwood is the place to spot raptors!)
Fort Tilden, Queens
Best Lookout Spot: Battery Harris East on the Fort Tilden Loop
Noteworthy: Once a military site, Fort Tilden has been transformed into a captivating park, with plants like yucca and northern bayberry thriving on this area of the Rockaway Peninsula. Take the Fort Tilden Loop to Battery Harris East. This former bunker is now an excellent overlook where you can see the Atlantic Ocean to the south, Jamaica Bay to the north, and a stunning bird's eye view of the maritime forest below.
Arden Woods, Staten Island
Best Lookout Spot: Forested Corridor on the Orange Trail
Noteworthy: This recently formalized park on the south shore of Staten Island is a gem for viewing autumn foliage. Find solace in this quiet haven that has sprawling hills and streams that ebb and flow throughout. You can also take a moment to admire the freshwater wetlands and the many birds they attract.
Are you interested in visiting these areas through a guided hike? Visit our list of upcoming events and tours.